The ISIS Enigma — Mirza Aslam Beg

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The White House announced on Friday that the ISIS caliphate in Syria has been 100% defeated. — CNN

GEN (R) MIRZA ASLAM BEG | Caravan Daily

Ithe New York Times, the leading article in a recent issue was captioned: “Caliphate is Gone, but ISIS is Not”. The ISIS is the phenomenon which emerged fourteen hundred years ago, by the name of Khowarjis, when the two revered factions of early Islam, started fighting against each other. Similarly, it emerged again under Abu Bakar Baghdadi, opposing the internecine war in Syria. In 2014, the ISIS comprised three main groups – the Syrian, Iraqi and the 3-4000 Saudis under Ahmad Kheshgi. They now stand defeated in Syria, but will continue to threaten these two countries in particular, as well as other Muslim countries devastated by war during the last three decades. “There are 15,000-20,000 armed ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria, accelerating faster than efforts to prevent it.” (J.F.Jeffrey)

I wrote the article “The ISIL Enigma” some five years back, published in our English and Urdu dailies in September 2014. Describing the phenomenon of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), I said, it is not new to the Muslim World, but for others, it is an enigma. ISIL has grown out of the deep frustration, hate, disenchantment and injustices experienced by a group of people who now have risen in revolt, to correct the course, in their own puritan ways. Such a phenomenon first occurred in 37 AH, by the name of Khowarjis, who fought the bloody battle of Niharwan against Caliph Hazrat  Ali. They revolted because the battles of Jamal and Siffin, which Hazrat Ali fought against Hazrat Ayesha and Hazrat Muwaviah, so gravely disenchanted them in respect of these personalities, whom the followers of the Faith, so much revered and loved.

The ‘shock and awe’ brutalities committed by the US and their allies, on Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, and sanctions on Iran, drew the Hate Line. Now, the Sunni-Shia divide in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Palestine, was induced to create internal conflicts. Political Islam was rejected in favour of modernity, whereas the Muslims, in general, believe that:

“Human existence should be God-centered human order, whereas the proponents of modernity prefer an order that favours individual autonomy and marginalized God. Not God first but We first.”

Even a country like Pakistan, where an exemplary Shia-Sunni harmony exists, all kinds of machinations have been devised, to break the harmony. The Khowarjis of early Islam revolted because of their disenchantment with their most respected personalities of the Faith. Similarly, the ISIL of the present times has revolted against the Shia-Sunni conflict and the collusion of their leaders with the enemies of Islam, creating deep hatred for their rulers. Shia & Sunni countries now are pitched against each other in Syria and Iraq – a reminiscence of the battles of Jamal and Siffin.

As if that was not enough, under the leadership of the United States of America, a new plan now has been worked-out, on 14th February 2019 at Warsaw, to accelerate the Shia-Sunni conflict, by assigning responsibility to Israel, to contain and curb Iran, while India has been tasked to deal with Pakistan, and bring Central Asia, South Asia and the Asia Pacific region under Indian hegemonic domination. Trumps is oblivious of the reality because, he thinks that by using the military power they can “contain, degrade and destroy the ISIS.” He is wrong. The problem has gone much beyond the military capability to restore order. The Americans went all out to destroy Al-Qaida and claim to have killed Osama and his entire network, yet Al-Qaida is alive, splintered and spreading over several countries and more destructive than ever. How to deal with ISIS, is the primarily concern.

With India and Israel, joining this nexus, it becomes much more ominous for the Muslims and the world at large. The Muslim World was able to contain and assimilate the Khowarjis into the Islamic order. That is the approach, the civilized world must follow. Of necessity, it requires of the Americans and their allies a cool heart and a perceptive mind, to develop a new strategy, a new plan and a new approach to deal with this problem. But unfortunately, “they don’t know what else to do. Use of the military has become their ‘Default Option.” The former President Obama is not oblivious of the reality when he says:

“Oh, it’s a shame when you have a dissident professional President,

with no foreign policy, other than “don’t do stupid things”.

Yet Trump can’t help doing things like “moving the American embassy to East Jerusalem”, and the “time for the United States to fully recognize Israel sovereignty over the Golden Heights.” Sure, he needs to develop a noble heart, like that of Jacinta Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, to correct the course.

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General Mirza Aslam Beg is a former Chief of Pakistan Army. The views are personal and Caravan does not necessarily share or subscribe to the writer’s views.

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